Monday, February 22, 2016

I Was Gonna Make Espresso, or Carrie-Anne Moss in Frankenstein

Every Frankenstein movie is technically steam punk, not horror, just sayin’.  It’s a popular misconception, but the regeneration of dead flesh stolen from fresh graves with the application of science (or lightning) makes it science fiction, or at the very least a sci-fi horror.  The title of the original novel is Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus; Mary Shelly focused on the debate between science and religion while here in Hollywood we focused on the fun parts.  That being, you know, grave robbing, chopping up bodies and subsequently reassembling them into an unholy super-strong abomination that inevitably escapes to terrorize the villagers.
Which brings us to Frankenstein (2015) or as the millenials like to call him, FRANK3N5T31N, a direct to video movie starring Carrie-Anne Moss and Danny Huston (Director John Huston’s son, which makes him Hollywood royalty, you know him from American Horror Story: Coven and as the lead vampire in 30 Days of Night 2007).  Not to be confused with Daniel Radcliffe’s Victor Frankenstein, which came out the same year.  This is the problem when you develop a work in public domain; you get overlap and confusion like Sherlock and Elementary.  (Universal owns the rights to their iconic makeup, but not the story, character or the name Frankenstein.  I know you were wondering).
This incarnation of the Mary Shelley novel has Danny Houston as a modern Victor Frankenstein in Los Angeles inventing a 3-D flesh printer, which is used to create the monster, instead of body parts.  Carrie Anne Moss plays his wife Dr. Mary Frankenstein, along with a team of mad scientists in lab coats just waiting to be splattered in blood when the monster escapes.  It reminded me of Splice (2009) a far more cogent argument for the modern Frankenstein film.  Carrie-Anne Moss struggles bravely with the weak script and lackluster character, but ultimately fails to be compelling as a mad scientist, or a mother figure for the Monster.
All of the beats of the original Universal movie are transplanted to downtown Los Angeles; the little girl at the river, the angry villagers with garden implements and Tony Todd as a homeless blind blues player who befriends the Monster and teaches him to speak (my favorite part of the movie).  It’s always a treat to see Tony Todd at work, but I was continually reminded of Gene Hackman as Harold the Blind Hermit in Young Frankenstein (1974).
Alas, I found FRANK3N5T31N to be humorless and dispassionate, not that I wanted a comedy, but rather that I didn’t get a sense of affection for the genre, and there’s no reason to make a movie like this one if you’re not committed to it.  The trouble may have started with the original concept of a modern retelling of this classic movie.  There are so many better ways to tell this story if you want to modernize it, what with artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation and all those weaponized zombie viruses that seem to be out there.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.